As we’re heading into summer, most of us will be spending more time outside. For a worry-free summertime, here are some backyard safety tips to keep you and your family safe.
Set Boundaries and Expectations
For children, a backyard can be both a safe place to play and an obstacle course of unexpected dangers. Set boundaries and expectations to keep them from harm. If there isn’t a fence, consider building one; when a fence isn’t an option, be clear about where kids can play – keep them from wandering into the neighbour’s yard; away from the barbecue grill even when it’s not in use; and the pool or other water features on the property that aren’t fenced in. Ensure gates are locked.
The ground should be free of tripping hazards such as rocks and stones, holes from animal activity (pets, wild animals, etc.), and uneven areas in the lawn. When kids and their friends are playing in the backyard, there should be supervision, especially if the designated play space can’t be seen from the windows.
Lawn Care and Landscaping
Summer maintenance chores like mowing the lawn, killing weeds, and attending the flowerbeds and vegetable garden can seem routine and non-threatening. But lawn care power tools such as lawn mowers and edgers can kick up dirt and debris that can be harmful if air born. Get into the habit of doing yard work when children and/or pets won’t be around.
Regardless of the type of machine – self-propelled or ride-on – lawn mowers can be dangerous even for adults. Before using the mower, go over the ground first and remove any twigs, toys, or rocks that might become missiles when run over by the mower. Even if it appears there’s no one around, never leave the machine running unattended.
When you’re applying pesticides or fertilizers use general safety protocols for handling chemicals. Carefully follow the instructions for any lawn care product used in the backyard – often manufacturers advice that children and pets are kept off the treated area for 48 hours or more.
Properly put away and store any lawn care equipment, tools, and chemicals in a shed with a childproof lock. Never leave out rakes, shovels, hoses, or anything else that might look like it would be an interesting item to play with.
Swing Sets, Lawn Furniture, Grills, Etc.
Any swing sets or play structures should be installed on level ground, preferably on soft ground cover such as wood chips, sand, pea gravel or engineered wood fiber.
Lawn furniture in a backyard that will be used by children should have rounded corners. It should always be kept in good repair.
Place the barbecue as far away from the children’s designated play area as possible. It should also be a safe distance from siding, tree branches, and overhanging planters. Ensure the grill is never left unattended when still hot. When not in use, store a propane grill where small children can’t reach and turn the knobs.
If you have a fire pit, never leave it unattended when young children are around. When done for the evening, fully extinguish it.
Insist on Swimming Pool Safety
Ideally, a pool should be enclosed on four sides by a fence a minimum of five feet high and includes a latchable door or gate.
In the water or just lounging around the pool, children should be supervised at all times.
Install a sturdy pool cover for when the pool is not being used.
Maintain the pool properly – keep drains and suction covers in good repair; safely store and secure pool chemicals; remove toys from in the pool and around the pool deck.